Sam Bond’s Garage is Eugene, Oregon’s coolest bar. Serving beer out of mason jars and boasting a double wide dance floor, it is the original hipster honkytonk. Tonight, here for the quintet Betty and the Boy, it teems with wool hats, raincoats, and middle aged young people. All are a little bit rich, a little bit poor, ready to stomp their feet, clap their hands and say Yea. On stage, there is an upright bass, a violin, and the newest edition, a cello. Vocalist Bettreena Jaeger sings and plays guitar, while co-vocalist Josh Harvey starts with his banjo, and will at some point switch it out for a mandolin. The two leads hail from Montana, and they call their sound an eclectic blend of Big Sky “porch-kitchen sink-everything music.”
Betty is a string-plucking, back roads siren whose pitch gives wings to her heart. Her voice is out of this world, while the Boy’s voice is of it. Together, their vocals are ethereally grounded, supporting each other with an enchanting country balance.
The band kicks off the night with the title single of their new album, Good Luck. The up-tempo song sounds like a happy ending and the melody makes butterflies in my stomach. I am flooded with the feeling of being so happy that these people have found each other and are here to play just for me. “Good Luck” fades into “The Waltz,” a beautiful song played in 3/4 time. The instrumentals are that of a black and white French romance film, and I think I’m falling in love. Also, there is an “Ooo” chorus here; something I’ve previously mentioned gets me, every time. The audience in house is particularly rowdy this evening, but the band commands them with their mocking Ha Ah Ah’s on the haunting “Moth to a Light.”
Soon, an hour set has passed, and all I can think of is how bummed I am not to have a CD player in my car, because I want to keep hearing this well after I leave the room. I want to stuff them all in a camper van and make them play around a crackling fire. I want to run away to the beach with the vocal accompaniment of Betty and the Boy, and their entire collection of stringed instruments. They are one of those bands that sound as good live as they do on record, a rarity in this digital age. They play from the soul, for the soul, and I encourage anyone out there to get wrapped up in their Good Luck.
And I wish them good luck, as they set off on the week long Mountain Song cruise; an invitation only five band bluegrass battle at sea. Bon Voyage!